In the past, traditional leaders have been accused of helping Zanu (PF) manipulate people’s votes during election time by forcing villagers to vote for it and intimidating all those perceived to be sympathetic to any opposition parties.
The chiefs have also been accused of forcing villagers to attend Zanu (PF) rallies around election time and harassing all those spotted at opposition gatherings or putting on regalia for the MDC.
“Chombo (Local government minister) is our witness. The only person who now loves chiefs in Zanu (PF) is President Mugabe. In fact we are fearful of the future when he ceases to be the leader of this country. In the politburo there are people who actually hate us,” said Charumbira.
He said top party officials had levelled false accusations against chiefs in closed door meetings with Mugabe. “Now you hear those officials told Mugabe that so and so chief drives without a license, that there are chiefs troubling people in resettlement farms or that there is chief who knocked down a beast belonging to a villager and went away with the meat to distribute among others.
They are just telling the president everything negative about us,” he said. Charumbira also pointed out the reason why top Zanu (PF) officials had ditched chiefs is that they were now seized with the succession issue. “90 percent of the people who go to talk to Mugabe are now into succession games. But as chiefs we have chosen to be outside such matters and so we are now viewed as enemies,” he said.
When the chiefs endorsed the candidature of Grace Mugabe to be next leader of women in Zanu (PF) they were seen to be supportive of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction and accused of violating the constitution, which says they should be apolitical. Charumbira flatly denied the allegations.
“We are not politicians and we never wish to be politicians. The media has been awash with reports that we had delved into politics when we endorsed the candidature of Amai Mugabe – but that is far from it. We only thought we should not go against leaders elected by the people,” he said.Post published in: News